The PT Boat Forum

Forum Category: PT Boats of WWII

Forum Name: PT Boats - General

Topic: Lifebuoys color


I'm finishing JFK's PT 109. The 1/32 Lindberg kit instructions specify light grey for the lifebuoys.

Weren't the lifebuoys painted the same scheme as the boat to blend with it?


Posted By: rva1945 | Posted on: Dec 9, 2017 - 11:46am
Total Posts: 1 | Joined: Sep 23, 2017 - 2:29pm


I'm pretty sure most of the "life buoys," as you call them -- which I've always called "life rings", and some people call "life preservers" -- were usually overpainted the same color as most of the rest of the boat.

Most of them probably started out from the factory as light gray in color, matching the original light gray decks and "superstructure" of (most) of the boats, but appear to have been overpainted in photos of boats in the forward areas.

Whatever you do, don't make the goofy mistake of painting them orange, yellow, or white, like I've seen on some PT boat models.

Like all PT-related subjects and topics on this Forum, there are other members who will probably have a better and more definitive answer to your question who may weigh in.

Posted By: Drew Cook | Posted on: Dec 10, 2017 - 6:51am
Total Posts: 1267 | Joined: Oct 19, 2006 - 10:44am

In the past most of my PT models that were being built for my Exhibit, the life rings were painted a bit different shade of what the boat was. For instance if the boat is gray we used a tiny bit different shade of gray, same thing with green PT Boats. Painting them the same as the boat they tend to get lost in the paint.

Posted By: Frank Andruss | Posted on: Dec 16, 2017 - 11:19am
Total Posts: 3964 | Joined: Feb 9, 2007 - 11:41am

I agree with Frank.

I've noticed in vintage photos some (but not all) of the life rings retain a somewhat dulled, slightly shiny patina -- even when painted the same color as the rest of the boat-- in contrast to the more flat coloring of the rest of the boat.

There are undoubtedly several different modeling paints or treatments that would achieve this, but a cheap way to get the effect is to rub the painted rings between your fingers, The natural oils in your skin will do the trick. I've read that some people think this is "unsanitary," but...

Posted By: Drew Cook | Posted on: Dec 19, 2017 - 12:45pm
Total Posts: 1267 | Joined: Oct 19, 2006 - 10:44am